The rise of the Helmet Cam Constabulary
Police are hunting a man, possibly in his forties, who was filmed assaulting a female cyclist in east London. Video footage from the victim’s helmet cam shows the man crossing a road beside her, where she asks him not to knock her off. Then, when she pauses at the next junction, he runs up to her and shouts something at her before pushing her over. The victim was apparently ‘upset’, but did not need medical attention.
That’s it. And yet this massive non-story has attracted considerable attention. It isn’t even ‘news’ – the incident occurred in May. But, nonetheless, we now have a citywide manhunt underway as a result of someone being petulantly rude to another person.
Much more worrying is the fashion for wearing helmet cams. Now, self-righteous cyclists can threaten anyone who crosses their paths with the possibility of video evidence being taken to the police. That stupid little appendage, which seems to turn a humble bonce-protector into a latter-day Bismarckian helmet, is there to say: ‘Don’t even think about fucking with me or I’ll get the full force of the state on to you.’
This is a form of mobile CCTV where every little indiscretion can become a criminal matter. For example, in June, there was equally extensive coverage of a woman caught by a cyclist scoffing a bowl of breakfast cereal from her lap while she was driving. There was no evidence that the woman’s driving had been impaired or that she was a threat to anyone.
Cyclists have become a volunteer arm of the police, the Helmet Cam Constabulary, keeping a watch over all our misbehaviour and handing us over to the bizzies if we step out of line. The result is to encourage a mistrustful atmosphere between people where disagreements are increasingly settled through state intervention and our every move is kept under civilian surveillance. Perhaps these cycle snitches could do us all a favour and push off.
Rob Lyons is a spiked columnist.
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